If you’re thinking about getting a pet bird, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by all the options available. Even if you know you don’t want a large bird, like a macaw, choosing between all the different smaller bird species can still be challenging. One type of bird to consider is the conure, a small to medium-sized bird from the parrot family.
Colorful, active, noisy — they certainly won’t fail to make you notice them. But do conures make great pets? What do you need to prepare for raising them? Are they the right pet birds for you?
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Do conures make great pets?
When hand-raised and properly socialized, conures make excellent pets. Unlike some pet birds who are shy and less interactive, conures love being the center of attention. They love spending time out of their cages and hanging out with their people.
Since they enjoy an active environment, conures are a good match for families with kids. If you have a child, teach them how to interact with birds — conures don’t mind and sometimes enjoy being handled, but engaging with one requires careful training. Because they can learn tricks and imitate behaviors, such as speech, they can be fun pets for kids.
What are the behaviors and characteristics of a conure?
Here are some behaviors and characteristics of conures that you need to know:
- Social and engaging
- Enjoys human interaction
- Extremely active
- Can be taught tricks
- Can speak a few words with practice
- Playful and affectionate
- Squawky and loud
- Nippy — they like to nibble on things!
The average lifespan of a conure is 20 years and more given the proper care. There are several different species of conures, such as maroon belly conure, dusky conure, green cheek conure, and peach front conure. Male and female conures are only distinguishable by blood testing — otherwise, they look exactly the same.
What are some of their behavioral challenges?
Don’t be fooled by their small size — conures can present challenges. They’re known for their loud and harsh calls, a natural way of communication and social interaction that must not be “trained away”. But they can develop into excessive screamers, and that can be frustrating! Such behavioral challenges require early intervention.
Other behavioral challenges that conures present include:
- Excessive chewing. It’s within a bird’s nature to chew on things. But when it becomes excessive and undesirable, it’s necessary to intervene.
- Biting. Conures, like all other birds, can be nippy!
- Excessive noise. Some conures are only moderately loud. But most conures can be very noisy, which can upset neighbors or people sensitive to loud sounds.
Don’t wait for your conure to exhibit these behavioral challenges before you correct them — nip these habits in the bud! Train your conure while they’re young to prevent excessive screaming, chewing, and biting to save yourself from unnecessary headaches.
What’s their habitat?
Conures need the largest possible habitat. The minimum habitat size would be approximately 24″ W x 24″ D x 30″ H. Its metal bars should have no more than ¾” between them. There are many commercially available habitats generally made with stainless steel bars. If you’ll be opting for a homemade habitat, avoid using wood and galvanized wire as they can’t be disinfected properly. Birds tend to chew on their habitats and might ingest potentially toxic chemicals.
How to build a conure’s habitat
Make sure your household temperature is between 65°F and 80°F. Be cautious about extreme temperature changes since they may not acclimate well. Place the habitat off the floor in well-lit areas, away from drafts, and inaccessible to other curious pets, such as cats and dogs.
Conures are highly social creatures, so it would be good to place their habitat in an area with lots of household activity. Make sure that no parts of the habitat or toys contain lead, zinc, other potentially toxic heavy metals, and galvanized parts. These could cause serious medical issues if birds ingest them. Other pointers would be:
- Perches should be approximately ½ inch in diameter. Use perches made of different materials, such as wood, concrete, braided rope, and natural branches.
- Don’t use sandpaper covers on perches as they are abrasive and can hurt your conure’s feet.
- Don’t place food or water containers directly under perches.
- Since conures are intelligent birds, you’ll need to provide various toys for mental stimulation.
- Place a metal grate over the habitat bottom.
- The tray in the habitat bottom must be lined with habitat paper or other paper-based substrates for easier cleaning and dust reduction.
- Shine a UV light on the habitat 10 to 12 hours a day.
- Get a water dish that’s large enough for a conure to bathe in.
- Spot clean the habitat daily, thoroughly wash and dry food blows, replace substrate or habitat liner at least once a week, and regularly clean your pet’s habitat and perches.
What’s their diet?
A well-balanced conure diet consists of:
- Nutritionally complete and balanced pelleted food specially formulated for conures, which should make up 60 to 70% of your conure’s diet
- Less than 10% of fresh vegetables, fruits, and fortified seeds as a treat
- Clean, fresh water
Do not feed conures with avocados, fruit seeds, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol. These foods are toxic to birds and can cause illness or even death if consumed. Avoid salty, sugary, and fatty treats as well since they can be harmful to your conure.
How should you care for a conure?
Conures are highly social, so they need to be socialized daily by their pet parents. Allow them daily time out of their habitat to exercise and get comfortable with you. Supervise them constantly to ensure they don’t get injured while they’re out of their habitat.
Birds need regular grooming, including nail trimming every few weeks to months. Leave the trimming to a trained person to prevent injury to your conure. They will not usually need break trimming unless they have an underlying condition that can cause abnormal beak growth. Lastly, clipping the outermost four to six flight feathers can help prevent them from injuring themselves while flying inside your home.
How do you know if your conure is healthy?
If your conure is active, alert, sociable, has smooth and well-groomed feathers, with dry and bright eyes, supple skin on legs and feet, and a smooth beak, then your conure is healthy.
But if your conure exhibits any of these signs, those are red flags that something is wrong:
- Fluffed, plucked, or soiled feathers
- Sitting on the habitat floor for an extended period
- Wheezing, sneezing, or coughing
- Labored breathing and tail bobbing
- Regurgitation or vomiting
- Runny, discolored, or bloody stools
- Straining to pass droppings
- Ocular or nasal discharge
- Red, swollen eyes
- Crusty skin around the face and feet
- Persistent sleeping during the day
- Loss of appetite
Some common health issues in conures include chlamydiosis, diarrhea, bacterial infections, feather plucking, and polyomaviruses. It’s critical to seek immediate veterinary attention when you notice something isn’t right with your pet.
Why is it worth getting a conure?
When you’re doing your research on pet birds, conures are definitely one of the most common recommendations — and for good reason! There are many benefits to getting a conure. But they make great family pets, especially, because:
- They adapt to people easily.
- Many types of conures are ideal for first time or experienced bird owners.
- Conures are reasonably priced and easily obtainable.
- They are great in groups or alone.
- Their cages don’t take up much space at all.
Is a conure the right bird for you, though?
Conures have big personalities for such small birds. Smart and interactive, they’ll definitely bring joy to your household. But like many other pets, they require committed caretakers who’ll work with them to guide their behavior.
If you are:
- not sensitive to loud noises
- able to spend several hours a day with your pet
- able to provide them with ample space
- willing to take on a 20-year commitment
- looking for social, playful, and affectionate birds
- prepared for plenty of chewing and nipping
… then a conure is a good fit for you!
What conure should you get?
That will depend on your preferences. There are different conure species you can choose from. Each variety has unique markings and temperaments. Look into the different species to find the right one for you. Some suggestions would be:
- If you’re looking for a conure with beautiful plumage, choose a sun conure.
- Select a green-cheeked conure or dusky conure if you want a quieter bird.
- Adopt a nanday conure only if you live in your own house since it’s one of the loudest varieties of conures and can annoy others if you live in a shared space.
- Want a conure that can learn to talk? Get a mitred conure.
Where can you get a conure?
Conures are a popular bird species, so they’re usually easy to find. You can find them at pet stores or purchase them from exotic bird breeders. They might be available for adoption from shelters or rescue groups as well.
If you can care for them well, conures make great companions. These colorful beauties have big personalities for such a small species. They’re intelligent and all about having a good time. If you’re ready to add a long-term, cuddly companion to your family, then a conure may be the perfect pet for you — once you’ve built a loving bond with your conure, you’ll be in for 20 years of joy!
A fitness junkie and a cosmopolitan traveler, Kathy is the mom of peppy baby Malaya and mixed beagle Holly. She’s a capable businesswoman who balances work with living a wanderlust life with her hooman and fur babies.